5 stars · Fantasy · series

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab is all I want in fantasy

A Darker Shade final for Irene

a darker shade of magic

shades of magic #1

author : v.e. schwab

pages : [hardcover] 400

memorable quote :

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”

favorite character : holland

summary :

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

review :

This book is truly a rollercoaster and, wow, I can’t believe I waited so long to read it.

There are some books I know I’ve been hyped too much about and can’t enjoy. Then there are some that live up to the hype, exceed it–maybe deserve more of it. A Darker Shade of Magic is certainly the latter.

And, yes, I’d heard a lot of good things about this book. But I dove into it without even reading the summary–without knowing much about the plot really. Apart from assuming it had something to do with magic. (Yes. There is plenty of magic in this book. What. A. Shock.) I loved not knowing what I was getting myself into. What the world was, what the plot was going to be, what the characters goals and motivations were. I wanted to find out within the story and it truly delivered.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I already know I need more to devour. The writing is just captivating. I love the way that the world was built. And there was absolutely no info-dumping! I hate that more than almost anything else in fantasy novels. The characters were so nicely fleshed out that you came to feel for even the most minor of them. I wanted more of some who only appeared on a few pages!

That said, some of the main characters were a little predictable in their little heroic roles. I’m excited because the way this book left off leaves more room for interesting and unexpected things to happen. For these characters to really branch out and flex their wills and abilities in this world.

Basically I need book two like yesterday.

This is a book I’ll recommend and reread. It’s a book with characters I love and a world I can immerse myself in and a story that hooks me in. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

5/5 stars

 

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3 stars · series · young adult

Daughter of the Pirate King: entertaining but disappointing

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daughter of the pirate king

daughter of the pirate king #1

author : tricia levenseller

pages : [hardcover] 320

favorite character : alosa

summary :

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

review :

Daughter of the Pirate King was a lot of fun and proved why we need more lady pirates in books. But it wasn’t perfect.

I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I saw the MC compared to a ‘female Jack Sparrow’ (and my love for the Pirates of the Caribbean films is never-ending despite theirfaults). The cover is cool, the concept cooler. I finally managed to get a copy from the library and settled in.

The book immediately draws you in. The plot begins with a big battle scene, the beginnings of a cunning scheme, and blood. Lots of blood. Oh, and death. This isn’t some sanitized version of pirating–there are lots of people who aren’t going to make it through the book, simply because they were in the wrong place, or didn’t fight hard enough, or were too drunk to defend themselves. I loved that ‘classic’ pirate things were happening–the pillaging, the plundering, the drinking. All seen through the lens of this incredibly strange and powerful young woman.

Alosa is an amazing main character in many ways. She’s interesting to follow. She’s smart, has witty comebacks, and is a fantastic fighter. The only problem is possibly that she’s too good. She’s too perfect at getting herself out of sticky situations; too perfect at being better than everyone else. Even when she’s defeated she is only losing because she allows the other person to think of her as weaker. This wasn’t merely something like she has the ego to think she’s the best. There’s nothing here to show she isn’t the best.

And, with that comparison to Jack Sparrow–we all know even the best pirates need someone else to save their skin sometimes.

The writing I think is what kept me from giving this book any higher than three stars. While I know that it’s just due to my taste, I couldn’t dive into the style. The tone didn’t feel right to me. For all of the reasons I loved the way this book was going, that couldn’t persuade me to fall in love with the writing. Which is . . . pretty much a big one for me when I judge books.

I think this is going to be a series; I can almost guarantee that I won’t read the sequel. Which disappoints me so muchbecause, like I said, I love some badass women pirates. I love these types of characters. I just wish this had been written differently.

3/5 stars

 

 

 

5 stars · science fiction · series

Undivided by Neal Shusterman; an amazing conclusion to the series

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undivided

unwind #4

book 1: unwind
book 2: unwholly
book 3: unsouled

author : neal shusterman

pages : [hardcover] 372

favorite characters  conner & risa

memorable quote :

Best way to save humanity is to turn the monsters against one another.

summary :

Teens control the fate of America in the fourth and final book in the New York Times bestselling Unwind dystology by Neal Shusterman.

Proactive Citizenry, the company that created Cam from the parts of unwound teens, has a plan: to mass produce rewound teens like Cam for military purposes. And below the surface of that horror lies another shocking level of intrigue: Proactive Citizenry has been suppressing technology that could make unwinding completely unnecessary. As Conner, Risa, and Lev uncover these startling secrets, enraged teens begin to march on Washington to demand justice and a better future.

But more trouble is brewing. Starkey’s group of storked teens is growing more powerful and militant with each new recruit. And if they have their way, they’ll burn the harvest camps to the ground and put every adult in them before a firing squad—which could destroy any chance America has for a peaceful future.

review :

Unwind was one of those books that, after I read it, I knew immediately I was going to love it and keep rereading it forever. It took me a little while to realize it was going to be part of a series. I’m so amazed at the turns this series has taken–the ups, the downs, those nail-biting moments in-between. Neal Shusterman proves again and again that he’s one of my favorite authors because he’s brilliant, and writes wholly (ha) unique and compelling narratives, and creates these characters you can’t help but love.

Undivided, the final book in the Unwind dystology, came with a bittersweet feeling. I often hate to end series because, while I have this pull to know what’s going to happen, I can’t help but feel like I need to stretch out my time in the story. I don’t want it to end. Oftentimes it takes me longest to read the books I know I’ll love because I’m afraid of the terrible things that could happen to the wonderful characters.

Not to say that Neal Shusterman isn’t also capable of creating amazing, compelling villains, or those characters who float around in the gray area between good and evil. As much as I care for some of the amazing crew they’ve picked up along the way, I always need me some Connor and Risa.

I won’t spoil anything. I will say that this book made me cry like I haven’t since I read book one for the first time. It’s amazingly thoughtful, terribly reminiscent and poignant in today’s world. It’s sweet. It bites. And it’s everything that I could have ever wished for.

What I love most about this series is that when it’s bad, you can’t imagine it will get any worse. And it does. And then when it’s good, you can’t imagine it’ll get any better, and then it does. There’s never any way to predict it and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sad to say goodbye to those surprises, and these characters, and those moments that made me laugh or cry. But I’m glad for the journey–if only so I can force everyone I know to read these books, immediately.

Undivided proves, once and for all, that this will be one of my favorite series of all time.

5/5 stars

5 stars · series · young adult

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo; amazing, astounding, astonishing

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Crooked Kingdom

Six of Crows #2

author : leigh bardugo

pages : [hardcover] 536

memorable quote :

I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together.

favorite character : matthias

summary :

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

review :

I’ve avoided reviewing this book, probably because reflecting on it reminds me that it’s one of the most painful stories I’ve read. Beautifully written, wonderfully executed, and the kind of book that makes me cry so much I kind of resent it.

If you haven’t read Six of Crows, you absolutely need to. Not only because it’s book one in this duology, it’ll be one of the best books you’ve ever read. If you’re a fan of fantasy, or inventive new worlds, or great character novels, or heist schemes, you’ll love this book. Then you’ll crave more of it. These books are incredibly hefty–basically, the length of four books compiled into two. I think the duology option was incredibly smart because there’s no room for “middle book syndrome” here. Just nonstop action. And heartbreak.

I still can’t think of Crooked Kingdom without being filled with a curious mixture of happiness and devastation. It worked for me perfectly, and ensured this duology will remain as one of my favorite reads.

But, you know. No spoilers.

Crooked Kingdom picks up just where Six of Crows left off, introducing even more characters (and a few familiar faces for fans of the original Grisha trilogy. I might have squealed). The plot is so intricate. Kaz Brecker, one of the main characters, is truly a master of twisting things toward his will. Often in painful and unexpected ways–painful for his enemies, of course, not always the reader.

Matthias has always been my favorite. But, honestly, all of the main characters are just very adorable–though I think all of them would kill anyone who called them such to their face, apart from maybe Wylan. I loved how this book delves more into everyone’s backstories. It explains so much, not only their actions from the books but their motivations throughout their entire lives.

The book ends, I believe, with a perfect balance. There is room left to expand and create more stories within the Grisha universe, but this particular story arc is complete. Not all ends of it are happy, but . . you’ll just have to read to find out what happens. Honestly, it’s such a wild ride that even a very detailed spoiler review would take pages and pages and pages to write. Leigh Bardugo is exceptionally talented at weaving these intricate plots together and I love it!

Read it. Please. And then you must discuss with me.

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · series · young adult

Scythe by Neal Shusterman: chilling and amazing

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Scythe

Arc of a Scythe #1

author : neal shusterman

pages : [hardcover] 435

memorable quote :

“You have three hundred sixty-five days of immunity.” And then, looking him in the eye, said, “And I’ll be seeing you on day three hundred sixty-six.”

favorite character :  scythe faraday

summary :

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

review :

I’ve never met a Neal Shusterman novel I haven’t loved.

Honestly, he’s one of the best, most creative, most terrifying authors out there. His books will captivate you until the very end because you honestly cannot predict what will happen next. He’s the kind of author more than willing to kill off any character, so no one is safe–especially not in these worlds he builds. Which is a little ironic, because Scythe is in a way about a society of immortal people.

Imagine a world where people kill themselves for fun. You jump off of a building ten stories up and know in three or four days you’ll be fully healed–best of all, that first fix is free. Legally, they aren’t allowed to not bring you back. No one left in the world remembers a time when everyone born knew that they had only a certain amount of time left to live. Now, death is controlled by the Scythes. They are the only ones who can kill–or ‘glean’, as they call it to make it sound less like murder–and after they’ve chosen someone, they die for good. They’re really the only things to fear in this new world.

I loved this book. But it literally gave me nightmares. I’d stay up just to see how much I could read before I’d really have to get to sleep, and this is the kind of plot sure to give you an existential crisis. There’s some talk about what the point of life is when in the past, all of those people were going to die, anyway. But without death, or war, or hunger, or anything to struggle against, and with even nanites in their blood to keep them from feeling anything too strongly, there’s no art. No inspiration for it. People have all of these years and they just don’t know what to do with themselves in that time. It’s why Rowan and Citra are intrigued by the idea of becoming a scythe’s apprentice; it gives them each a purpose in life.

They each tell part of the story and  I loved hearing each of their voices. Essentially, they’re having the same life experience, but it impacts and twists them in completely different directions. Still, this is the one decision that will unite them forever, although they hadn’t known one another before the apprenticeship.

I don’t want to say anything more because I don’t want to give anything away. I mean, even in the summary of the book it says something that doesn’t happen until halfway through the book. This is the kind of novel you should dive into and just let yourself be immersed in the world and the characters.

It’s so good. I don’t think I can say that enough. Book two can’t come to me fast enough!

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · fiction · series · young adult

Wires and Nerve was everything I needed in a graphic novel

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Wires and Nerve

Volume 1

author : marissa meyer

illustrator : doug holgate

pages : [hardcover] 240

favorite character : wolf (always)

memorable quote :

“I misread the romantic tension, Didn’t I?”

summary :

In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure — with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

review :

How could I not love a graphic novel that continues one of my favorite book series? Especially because it means one of my favorite characters, Iko, is going to get her very own happy ending–well, probably. This is only volume one, so who knows what adventures could happen next!

The only thing I hated about this volume was how quickly I finished it, and how long I know I’ll need to wait until volume two.

Let’s talk about the artwork first. I’ve avoided graphic novel adaptations in the past because the images never quite line up with what I’ve had in my mind while I’m reading. The same is true for Wires and Nerve, because most of the character designs weren’t quite what I’ve had in mind. Still, maybe because it’s an extension of the series, it was easier to separate in my mind that this is Iko’s story, and everything else was it’s own entity. What kind of cemented it for me is that the characters still act and talk the way they have in the previous books, so even without the bulk of text that comes with a novel it was easy to feel the characters’ personalities shine through.

This volume made me excited for the series to come because it shows how the world has remained imperfect after Winter. There’s a natural progression in the plot, something for Iko to overcome, and some opportunities for romantic feelings in the future. I absolutely love that Wires and Nerve didn’t focus on any specific relationship with Iko because she’s never really had the chance to be the center of attention before. I’ve loved seeing what her dreams and motivations are–and how much of a badass she is. Iko can really shine and I’m waiting to read more about her!

5/5 stars

 

5 stars · series

Marvel-ous Mondays: “Civil War” was so stressful

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Civil War

author : mark millar

artist : steve mcniven

pages : [paperback] 208

favorite character : captain america

summary :

The landscape of the Marvel Universe is changing, and it’s time to choose: Whose side are you on? A conflict has been brewing from more than a year, threatening to pit friend against friend, brother against brother – and all it will take is a single misstep to cost thousands their lives and ignite the fuse.

Collecting Civil War #1-7.

review :

I can’t remember the last time that I was so stressed out reading a comic.

I mean, sure–I’ve seen the Civil War movie and loved it, but didn’t know how different it would be from the comic world. This was a much more intense version I think just because the comic could include so many more characters and concepts that wouldn’t have worked in the movie. Of course, it was slightly confusing to me because I didn’t know who some of the heroes were, but for the most part that was fine. I mean, who doesn’t know who Captain America and Iron Man are?

Captain America is one of my favorite heroes, which automatically made me want to take his side. I definitely did in the movie. This comic succeeded in making me see both sides of the argument more clearly and really stressed me when I thought that there was really no clean answer to the disagreement. Superheroes being registered and working for the government would probably keep less civilians in danger, make sure that there was less property damage, and generally keep people from getting too angry over the actions of these heroes. On the other hand, knowing their identities would put the heroes’ families in danger, it would take away their freedom, and as we’ve seen all too often in the Marvel universe when you have someone else telling you who the bad guys are, things can get corrupt real fast.

I flew through this volume because there was so much going on. Plot twists, trying to determine who would take what side. Also, surprising, I really liked Spiderman in this. For some reason I just haven’t been able to really get into him, but his role in this storyline was really interesting and I felt like it did a lot to show me who he is as a character.

I’d definitely recommend this volume. It’s fun. It’s different from anything that I’ve read so far. If you’re looking for action and suspense, you definitely need look no further.

5/5 stars